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2006 BIKE Transalp Challenge – Stages 4, 5, 6

July 21 2006 – Here are daily stage reports for Stages 4, 5 and 6 at the 2006 BIKE Transalp Challenge.

Stage 4

July 18, 2006 – Hansi Grasegger and Walter Platzgummer are unstoppable. The Italian-German team rocked today’s stage from Scuol to the Italian Livigno, conquered three passes and were able to diminish their handicap to 2.59 minutes to the Austrian challengers Ekkehard Dörschlag and Heinz Zörweg.

Already at the ascent to the Pass da Costainas the two Master-racers and the top five teams of the men’s category formed a group. In this group the new German U23-champion Andre Rudiger finished together with Tim Böhme in 3rd place in 3.32.58 hours in the men’s category. Finally at the ramp to the Passo Alpisella through the Val Mora the favourites and owner of the yellow jersey of the men’s category Karl Platt and Carsten Bresser broke away and reached Livigno, site of last year’s MTB Worlds, to great applause in 3.28.48.

One and a half minutes later Sandro Späth and Thomas Zahnd celebrated their 2nd place in today’s race and the total results. Team Rabobank with Gerben de Knegt and Richard Groenendaal, who began BIKE Transalp Challenge with a victory on the first stage, suffered on the steep ascents and place 5th place in 3.34.33 hours.

In the masters-discipline the Austrians Granko Brah und Thomas Widhalm reached right after the “Alpexpress” Grasegger / Platzgummer with a 4.35 minute handicap the finish. Started with great ambitions the Austrians Ekkehard Dörschlag and Heinz Zörweg gained 3rd place with a 5 minutes handicap but still could defend the leader-jersey in the masters-discipline.

Sandra and Peggy Klose aka. Team Zwillingscraft had today’s best legs and reached their 2nd stage-victory at the BIKE Transalp Challenge. The timer stopped at 4.13.01 hours which brought the pink leader-jerseys in the ladies-discipline to the twins. With great effort they succeeded in saving a 11.17 minutes healthy margin in the total-results to their challengers Adelheid Morath and Kathrin Schwing’ who were regrettably handicapped because of a technical defect. In their slip stream actually silver medal Champion of Salt Lake City in Cross-Country Skiing’ Christoph Schlickenrieder with his Partner Martin Leitner reached Livigno as well. Schlickenrieder’ who is an old hand at BIKE Transalp Challenge since his participation last year’ rhapsodised: “It was a perfect stage with bright sunshine and amazing singletrails. But I think we still feel last weeks triathlon in our legs.” and added winking’ “but still we are 2nd in the ladies-discipline.” The “real ladies” Adelheid Morath and Kathrin Schwing passed the finishing-line as the 2nd ladies-team with a 4.29.32 h time. Behind as usual the Specialized Starlets finished with a 17.44 minutes handicap.

The Mixed-series champions Anna Baylis-Scheiderbauer and Jörg Scheiderbauer could extend their margin to a comfortable nest egg of 51.28 minutes in the total-results with 1st place in only 3.56.10 hours. Neither any changes behind the couple of Ghost International Racing Team: the rankings in the mixed-discipline of the teams Spitz/Schäuble (4.05.01 Stunden) and Cow Bells & Bear Bells (4.11.46) stayed the same.

A panorama of dreams’ a paradise for singletrails’ heading for the peak at its finest. This are the best three expressions for tomorows stage of the superlatives from Livigno to Naturns. The stage starts at the amazing singletrails at Passo Trela’ passes further to the beautiful panorama over the Lago Cancano and after that follows the anscent to the Bocchetta di Forcola’ the highest pass of the 9th BIKE Transalp Challenge with 2.768 meters. The following downhill race over the Umbrailpass is going to raise the feel-good hormone-level until the arrival for perfection in Naturns. In a bit more technical way it can be said: 118’85 kilometers’ 2.909 altitude-meters’ and 17’8 percent path and hiking-trails.

Stage 5

5th stage from Livigno to Naturns over 118.85 kilometers and 2,909 altitude meters

Victory for Sandro Späth and Thomas Zahnd in the mens-discipline

July 19, 2006 (Naturns) – Today’s Swiss leading top team with Sandro Späth and Thams Zahnd won the longest stage of the race. After the 118.85 kilometer stage from Livigno to Naturns they had the stronger legs in the finish-sprint and won within 5.12.25 hours. Since a bad start in the first stage in which they gained only the 5th place, today’s winner-team has continuously ameliorated in the total results. Especially this track enthused the young winners: “It’s very cool to drive on those old military roads. The amazing panorama is the creamy top!” doted Späth. Only 6 seconds behind them the Rocky Mountain Business Objects Team with Platt and Bresser, whose lead in the total results isn’t endangered anyhow, dashed over the finishing line. The cross-specialists Gerben de Knegt and Richard Groenendaal “survived” the tough stage and finished today’s race surprisingly well as 3rd within 5.14.11 hours. This means the fight for the 2nd and 3rd place in the total results still remains thrilling: only 2.20 minutes separate the Dutch from the Swiss, while Platt/Bresser untouchable lead with a healthy margin of 18.48 minutes.

Kathrin Schwing and Adelheid Morath gave a big show today. The two ladies, who had a 16 minutes handicap compared to the twins Sandra and Peggy Klose yesterday, could nearly conquer again the leader jersey today. They won the stage after 6.08.58 hours and now only have a 44 second handicap in the total results. Zwillingscraft nearly lost all of their yesterday’s margin and crossed the finish line 10 minutes after Schwing/Morath. Specialized Starlets are again placed with their save 3rd place (6.57.45h).

The fight in the masters-discipline gets even more rancorous. Ekkehard Dörschlag and Heinz Zörweg stroke back and successfully defended their leader jersey from the “alpexpress” Platzgummer/Grasegger. But their victory was not for free ˆ the Austrians had to struggle the last 60 kilometers with a temperature of 30 degrees celsius alone (!). Zörweg completely exhausted: “Today’s tactic was to attack. It worked, but the upcoming fight is going to be hard.” Dörschlag completed:” I think the few seconds won’t make a decision ˆ it’s always a psychological fight.”

Stage 6

6th stage from Naturns to Malé with 85.21 kilometers and 3,427 vertical meters

Zörweg/Dörschlag closely defended the leader jersey

July 20, 2006 (Malé) – The Italian-German friendship does work. This is probably best proved by today’s rush of Walter Platzgummer and Hansi Grasegger, who set free unknown energy in their run for the leader jersey in the masters-discipline. As a matter of fact yesterday’s victory wasn’t Walter Platzgummer’s , but at today’s start in his hometown Naturns he wanted to win and finally detach Ekkehard Dörschlag and Heinz Zörweg from the leader jersey, which they has defended successfully since five stages. In the middle of the race the two riders from Scott-Adidas-Naturns Team sometimes had a margin of more than seven minutes and a new sensation nearly made it’s way: the finish of the two masters-riders as first in the daily total-results. But at the Rabbijoch the two riders got passed by Platt/Bresser, 2nd in the total results and de Knegt/Groenendaal in the exhausting pushing-parts. Sandro Späth and Thomas Zahnd saw their chance as they reached the top of the Rüblijochs at the first
ones. But Karl Platt and Carsten Bresser, with their rich experience of four BIKE Transalp Challenge victories could catch up to the two Swiss and finally reached Malé as the stage-winners with 4.19.59. Sandro Späth and his team partner Zahnd crossed the finish-line after 4.21.01 hours, followed by Team Rabobank. Especially the fight for the 2nd place in the total results is going to be tight. Späth/Zahnd only have a 2.57 minutes margin to the Dutch.

Despite of their small weaknesses at the Rabbijoch Masters Hansi Grasegger and Walter Platzgummer could shorten their handicap to only 54 seconds. They reached the finish line 3.32 minutes before Ekkehard Dörschlag and Heinz Zörweg, who finished the race after 4.21.32. The two Austrians are going to have to work hard to defend their leadership in the upcoming stages. Their countrymen Branko Grah and Thomas Widhalm had a 4.43.33 h time and reached the 3rd place in the total results oft the masters-discipline.

The Klose-twins can now take a deep breath of relief: their toughest challengers Schwing/Morath quit the race because they have to prepare themselves before the XC European Championships next weekend in Chies d”šAlpago. As a result the two sisters brought a save victory in 5.37.56 hours to Malé just before the Specialized Starlets (5.49.59 h). The Norwegian Team Torshov Sport gained the 3rd place with a 31.36 minute handicap.

Jörg Scheiderbauer and his wife Anna made it for sure with 4.52.22 hours. With a 1.32.26 hours margin in the total results there shouldn’t be any problems for them anymore. The second couple Sabine Spitz and Ralf Schäuble are pretty save, too, with a 20 minutes margin to their pursuers. 3rd place gained the Team Probike Lienz with a 20.52 minutes handicap.

The Virus BIKE Transalp Challenge is very persistent ˆ once infected, you always come back. Olympic Games medal winner Peter Schlickenrieder, who had his Transalp-debut last year, also seems addicted. He enjoyed a three day intermezzo from Scuol to Malé: “this is an absolute highlight for myself, just like a big family-meeting. The tracks are absolutely fabulous and one really has to ride it all to comprehend the unbelievable struggles.” Only for Schlickenrieder himself, Helmuth, the “father” of the feeding zones, prepared a special snack consisting of a “Brettljausn” and a “Weißbeer” at the Rabbijoch and so say “good-bye” to the legendary cross-country-skiier, who spent his last night with the 400 other riders in the famous-notorious Transalp-Camp.

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